Thursday, December 6, 2001
Immigrant Arrested on Jetliner Denies Charge He Was Threatening Americans
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An immigrant whose alleged threats of violence onboard a jetliner caused Air Canada to request fighter escorts back to Los Angeles International denied in court yesterday that he had threatened anyone.
Javid Naghani, a Woodland Hills resident born in Iran, said all he was doing was explaining that he is president of a company, Cleaning of America Maintenance, after he was caught smoking in the lavatory.
Naghani has been held in Metropolitan Detention Center for three months without bail, defense attorney Theodore Flier said, on charges of disturbing and interfering with a flight crew in violation of 49 U.S. Sec. 47506.
Naghani denied two flight attendants’ allegations that he made verbal threats to kill all Americans interfered with the duties of the flight crew, caused panic on the plane and made it necessary for the Sept. 27 Air Canada Flight 792 from Los Angeles to Toronto to be reverted to Los Angeles.
The defendant also said he did not harbor any hatred towards the United States.
“I’ve never said ‘I’ll kill all Americans’ in my whole life,” Naghani said. “I made a mistake of smoking, I admit it.”
Naghani said maybe the flight attendants confused his saying “I am the president of Cleaning of America” with something about killing all Americans.
A defense request to present character witnesses to testify to Naghani’s love of America was denied by U.S. District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew.
Three passengers, including the defendant’s wife, Rosa Hinojos, testified that they all sat approximately 10 feet from the area of the alleged threats and did not hear Naghani make anti-American threats.
One flight attendant testified that Naghani clearly said either he or his people would kill all Americans.
Natalie Frechette, a flight attendant, said she was 100 percent certain she heard the phrase “will kill all Americans,” yet was not sure whether the defendant said he or his people would kill all Americans.
Lew also denied the defense’s request to create a foundation that the flight attendant’s alleged racist motivations caused the defendant’s arrest. Another Middle Eastern passenger not associated with the defendant was allegedly also taken into custody after the flight landed, the defense said.
Lew refused to allow any evidence or questions pertaining to the alleged man, citing insufficient evidence introduced by the defense. Frechette said after the flight had just taken off, she was concerned with the defendant’s nervous and fidgety nature and his constant checking of his watch.
According to Frechette, after the fasten seat belt sign was turned off, the defendant immediately got up to go to the bathroom, where he apologized for bumping into another flight attendant before entering the bathroom.
Several minutes later, the smoke alarm went off while the defendant was in the bathroom and after several requests to come out, the defendant exited from a cloud of smoke, both flight attendants testified.
Naghani said he was unaware that smoking was prohibited aboard the flight, despite the onboard warnings. Naghani also denied that he was intoxicated.
After several requests, the defendant admitted having smoked and turned over his cigarettes, Frechette said. Naghani was then ordered by the in-charge flight attendant, not present at the trial, to sit down in one of the flight attendants’ seats near the bathroom, she said.
After Naghani handed over his cigarettes, the in-charge flight attendant told him that it is against federal law to smoke on flights and that the defendant could be arrested when the plane landed in Toronto, Frechette said. At that point, he became angry and said he was the president of some company and that he had such and such people, the flight attendant said.
Frechette said she then heard him say, “If you touch me…will kill all Americans.”
Frechette testified that the Middle Eastern ethnicity of the defendant did not concern her; only the threat did.
“In an airplane, you’re stuck in a tube and can’t call 911,” Freschette said. “He made me really uncomfortable and concerned after the threat. I wanted to vomit when I heard him say that.”
She denied that the flight crew overreacted in turning the plane around.
An airport police officer testified the defendant yelled “f— America and f— Bush” to him while Naghani was in the holding cell after being arrested at LAX.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company